Had Previously Won Back-To-Back Championships In 2004 And 2005
After a week long flying competition in which Mother Nature drew most of the headlines, forcing cancelation of 50% of the flying opportunities, Paul Petrehn (pictured) of Michigan won the 2013 U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship in Longview, Texas. It was his 3rd win as he had previously claimed the title in 2004 and 2005.
Rhett Heartsill of Texas was runner up while Pat Cannon, also of Texas and himself a previous two-time National Champion, finished third. A field of 52 pilots from across the U.S. flew a total of 10 tasks combined over 3 flights.
Heartsill, whose father Joe is a 5-time National Champ and a former World Champion, was also named the Texas State Champion as the highest ranking Texas pilot in the overall competition. Trevor Blount of Illinois was named Rookie of the Year. It was an exciting week of competition for 2nd generation pilots as Petrehn, Heartsill and Blount were all preceded into the sport by their fathers.
The U.S. National Balloon Championship is sanctioned by the Balloon Federation of America and was held in conjunction with the 36th Great Texas Balloon Race. The championship returns to Longview, Texas in 2014.